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A Very Cargoey Christmas

Date: Sunday the 8th January 2006
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT-3): 58°20.4 South’, 38°53.4 west.
Next destination: Signy
ETA: Tuesday 10th January 2006
Distance to go: 429 miles
Total distance sailed from UK: N/A
Current weather: Overcast with dense fog
Wind: Westerly force 6/7
Sea State: Moderate sea / Moderate swell
Barometric pressure: 979.7
Air temperature: 2.9°C
Sea temperature: 1.4°C

Click on www.sailwx.info for our latest position

The Ernest Shackleton departed Bird Island on the 11th December and headed off towards Halley which is the British base located on the Brunt Ice Shelf in the weddel sea ,depending on ice conditions we were due to arrive in the vicinity around Christmas eve time.

View of Bird Island from the Ship.
View of Bird Island from the Ship.

The passage time to Halley is usually around 2 weeks so it was time for the Halley fids to start holding training sessions for the new people before they arrive at what is the most extreme places the British Antarctic Survey has a base, The new recruits were instructed on 1st aid , risk assessments , use of the correct polar clothing , and general cargo operations just to name a few. So in the long evenings various events were organized to keep everyone entertained. On the 19th December was Cadet Paul Currans 21st birthday so we had a party for him on that day and he was presented with a couple of presents that had been made for him on the ship

Birthday boy Cadet Paul Curran
Birthday boy Cadet Paul Curran

During the evening Mark Wales, Matt Jobson and Adam Thornhill entertained everyone with an impromptu sing song.

Mark Wales , Matt Jobson , Adam Thornhill. Entertaining the Fids.
Mark Wales , Matt Jobson , Adam Thornhill. Entertaining the Fids.

The next event was the Race Night which is held every year en route to Halley. Organized this year by Nathen Keen and proceeds will go to his nominated charity which is Leukemia Research, A good night was had by all and over £800.00 was raised on the night for Nathen's Charity,

Horses lined up ready to go
Horses lined up ready to go

John Withers Collects his winners prize off Nathen Keen.
John Withers Collects his winners prize off Nathen Keen.

After about 8 days the ship started to find bands of Sea Ice which in some years can be very extensive but as luck has it there was very little which made a comfortable passage, The bands of ice we did encounter were only a few miles wide. But it was still a buzz for the people who have not experienced being on a ship breaking ice before.

View looking aft in the Ice.
View looking aft in the Ice.

In the meantime, Dave Anthony who is on his way to Halley and just happens to have a set of samba drums with him offered lessons to anyone who was interested , so their were quite a few people who braved the cool temperature down on the after deck on a Sunday afternoon and had a good time making a lot of noise.

Samba Band on the after deck.
Samba Band on the after deck.

In the daytime the routine things like keeping the ship clean and tidy go on. With the fids taking it in turns to help out with odd jobs about the ship.

James Parker polishing the messroom deck.
James Parker polishing the messroom deck.

Also with us is Hugh Marsden from the Falklands Philatelic Bureau who will be visiting all the bases to update and stamp the new first day covers held on each Antarctic Stations Post Office.

Hugh Marsden Stamping.
Hugh Marsden Stamping.

We arrived in the Halley area on the 22nd December two days early as there was little ice to contend with en route, After a cruise up and down the Brunt Ice shelf looking for a suitable place to commence with unloading and transporting cargo to Halley base, We found the only place we could do it was at a place called N9, Unfortunately the distance between the ship and the base is around 60km which meant a 12 hour round trip for each load of cargo but things went smoothly and the weather was favorable so the relief was completed in 7 days and nights with no accidents and only minor incidents.

Ernest Shackleton at N9 gets a visit from a local Penguin.
Ernest Shackleton at N9 gets a visit from a local Penguin.

Ernest Shackleton unloading Cargo at N9
Ernest Shackleton unloading Cargo at N9

Snowcat loaded up and ready for the journey to Halley Base.
Snowcat loaded up and ready for the journey to Halley Base.

Also helping out with the cargo was one of the British Antarctic Surveys Twin Otter aircraft ferrying stores and people back and forth to Halley Base.

Twin Otter at N9, loaded up and ready to go.
Twin Otter at N9, loaded up and ready to go.

With the cargo completed over the Christmas period it was time to have our own seasonal celebrations so on new years eve we had the ships traditional way of welcoming in the new year, Chief Engineer Mally Inch who is the oldest on the ship rings out 2005 on the ships bell followed by Cadet Paul Curran who is the youngest aboard the ship rings in 2006. As midnight is the end of a four hour seawatch it is known as 8 bells so the oldest and the youngest aboard the ship ring the bell 4 times each either side of midnight.

Chief Engineer Mally Inch ringing the old year out.
Chief Engineer Mally Inch ringing the old year out.

Cadet Paul Curran rings in the new year.
Cadet Paul Curran rings in the new year.

On new years day we at last had our belated Christmas lunch which was enjoyed by all.

Messroom on the Shackleton ready for Christmas Lunch (belated)
Messroom on the Shackleton ready for Christmas Lunch (belated)

Forthcoming events include a visit to Signy and arrival Port Stanley Falkland Islands.

That's about all the news from the Ernest Shackleton for now so all that remains is to say a Happy New Year to all our friends and family back home and thanks to all who took part in the race night which raised over £800 for Leukemia Research.

Dave Bailey.